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First-ever conference for retail clinicians a major success; more than 300 in-store practitioners attend milestone event


ORLANDO, Fla. Retail Clinician, a publication of the Drug Store News Group, in conjunction with the Convenient Care Association, held the Inaugural Retail Clinician Education Congress in Orlando, Fla., this week, marking the first and only educational conference specifically focused on the retail clinician.

More than 350 nurse practitioners from around the nation gathered for the event held Aug. 11 to 13 at the Gaylord Palms Resort. Today’s convenient care clinics serve as a critical component of the U.S. healthcare system as they afford consumers with convenient, quality and affordable access to care. Amid the backdrop of an overburdened U.S. healthcare system and rising healthcare costs, the role that these clinics play grows increasingly vital. There are nearly 1,000 clinics in operation, and it is estimated that by the end of 2008, some 1,500 clinics will be in operation nationwide.

In addition to a robust line up of speakers and education sessions, the groundbreaking event recognized several key players who are helping to shape this burgeoning industry, through the first-ever presentation of the Clinician Award for Retail Excellence, which honored in-store practitioners for amazing examples of patient care.

Each day, the roughly 6,000 nurse practitioners employed by retail clinics help make a different in patient’s lives. To recognize some of these “unsung heroes,” the conference awarded the CARE Awards. This year’s winners were:

  • Anita Wilson-Powell, RN, BSN, MSN, ANP-C, FNP-C, of Take Care Health Systems in St. Louis. Wilson-Powell helped save a child’s life by referring him to a physician who discovered the boy suffered from meningitis.
  • Louise Berndt, FNP-C, of Bellin Health Fast Care in Green Bay, Wis. Berndt was recognized for her love of the profession and her work in diagnosing a patient with diabetes.
  • Dixie Childers-Bowman, CNP, of MinuteClinic in Columbus. Childers-Bowman was recognized for her work in establishing the MinuteClinic Fit Club, a wellness/fitness regimen for employees.
  • Wendy Wright, FNP, of Take Care Health Systems in Tampa, Fla. Wright, who has passed away, was honored and remembered as someone who loved being an NP and touching patient’s lives.

Sandy Ryan, chief nurse practitioner officer of Take Care Health Systems, received the Leadership Award for her trailblazing efforts in the convenient care industry.

Receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award was Loretta Ford, who helped revolutionize the nursing profession 40 years ago with her work in co-founding the nation’s first pediatric nurse practitioner program.

In addition, the Convenient Care Association honored Retail Clinician editor-in-chief Rob Eder for his support of the retail clinic movement.

“I am just a journalist who is lucky enough to be able to tell heroic stories of patient care, but make no mistake—you are the real heroes,” Eder, receiving the award, told RCEC attendees. “The rising cost of health care is one of the biggest challenges facing America, and you have emerged as a major part of the solution.”

The Retail Education Congress also included a presentation by Tine Hansen-Turton, executive director of the CCA, and Ryan, who provided attendees with an overview of the CCA and the opportunities and challenges facing the industry.

The CCA, which was incorporated in October 2006, is focused on establishing quality care standards, providing industry education, and addressing common policy and practice challenges.

“You are part of a movement that has [treated] more than 3.5 million people … and they love you and love what you are doing in the clinics,” Hansen-Turton told attendees. “… We know that patient satisfaction is greater than 90 percent.” In fact, a CCA member survey yielded a 98 percent patient satisfaction rate.

Not only are customers embracing the concept, but so are third-party payors. One recent example that is a significant achievement for the industry is the announcement by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota that it is now offering a new benefit option that eliminates co-pays for members who use retail clinics.

“This is huge,” said Hansen-Turton, as it underscores third-party payors' embrace of the model and realization of the cost-saving and health benefit to patients. BC/BS estimates that members and employers saved more than $1.2 million in 2007 by visiting such clinics.

Since its inception, the CCA has taken great steps to demonstrate to the medical community that it is committed to medical safety. As part of that effort, it was announced at the conference that CCA this year developed the CCA Certification system. CCA has contracted with the Department of Health Policy of Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia to oversee a certification process for the convenient care industry. The first certifications are expected to be completed in the fall.

Looking ahead, Ryan said she predicts the industry will expand its role as first line responders as a broader range of services are increasingly being implemented within retail clinics. She also encouraged attendees to get involved and help further education on the retail clinic model within the medical community.

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